The Culture of the Sacred: Exploring the Anthropology of Religion by Michael V. Angrosino
246 pages, $34.95 list
1-57766-293-8
978-1-57766-293-8
The Culture of the Sacred
Exploring the Anthropology of Religion
Written from the perspective that culture and religion are holistic systems composed of interrelated elements, including belief, ritual, mythology, and ethics, this well-organized text explores religion’s enduring role in political, economic, and social affairs. Angrosino has taken a unique approach to capture the attention of readers who are new to the study of religion and culture.

Each chapter contains an overview, research explorations, a case study, discussion questions, and suggested resources. The overview, an accessible treatment of often-complex concepts, is followed by research explorations—suggested activities that involve students in hands-on projects geared to looking at how others experience various elements of religion. Next, a carefully chosen article, written by a recognized scholar(s), illustrates the chapter’s main theme and exposes students to relevant perspectives and original sources. Discussion questions link the concepts presented in the case study to the main points of the chapter, and the list of suggested readings and video resources provide further enrichment. The appendix contains chapter-by-chapter questions for review.

Instructors and students will find this text loaded with the necessary tools for learning new concepts and achieving a better understanding of religion as a permeating, enduring, and significant system.
Table of Contents
1. Overview and Basic Concepts
The Culture Concept / What Is Religion? / Other Perspectives / Looking Ahead / Case Study: “Fortress without Walls: A Black Community after Slavery” (Sydney Nathans)

2. Prehistoric Religion
Learning to Look at the Past / The Cultural Context of Prehistoric Religion / Evidence? / Magic? / Case Study: “Like Water for Chocolate: Feasting and Political Ritual among the Late Classic Maya at Xunantunich, Belize” (Lisa J. LeCount)

3. The Ideological Component of the Sacred
Belief as a System / Cosmology / How Does Someone Become Religious? / Dimensions of Belief / Kinds of Religious Experience / Case Study: “‘I Refuse to Doubt’: An Inuit Healer Finds a Listener” (Edith Turner)

4. The Ritual Component of the Sacred
How Anthropologists Observe Rituals / Types of Ritual / Ritual Practitioners / Functions of Ritual / Case Study: “Ethnometaphysics of Iroquois Ritual” (Elizabeth Tooker)

5. The Mythological Component of the Sacred
Why People Share Myths / The Analysis of Myth / Myths as Social Actions / Case Study: “Gilgamesh and Christ: Two Contradictory Models of Man in Search of a Better World” (Miles Richardson)

6. The Ethical and Moral Components of the Sacred
Sources of Morality / Virtue / Thou Shalt Not . . . / Knowing What Is “Right” / Case Study: “The Navaho View of Life” (Clyde Kluckhohn and Dorothea Leighton)

7. The Environment of the Sacred
Making the Supernatural Seem Real / Natural Space as Sacred Environment / Creating Sacred Space / The Intersection of Sacred and Profane / Case Study: “Religion and Place in Southern Appalachia” (Richard Humphrey)

8. Religion in an Age of Globalization
Religion and Sociocultural Change / Religion in Pluralistic, Secular Societies / Confronting the Challenges of the Modern World / How Religion Endures / Case Study: “Civil Religion Redux” (Michael V. Angrosino)

Appendix: Questions for Review